Cross-Border Region Reacts To Trump Victory With Fear
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Ev Meade, director of the TransBorder Institute at the University of San Diego
Dulce Garcia, San Diego immigration lawyer
Latinos and other minority groups held a protest, and pedestrians at the world's busiest border crossing expressed anxiety.
Many in the San Diego-Tijuana border region are reacting to Donald Trump’s presidential victory with fear and uncertainty.
Trump has vowed to deport millions of people and make it harder to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Those plans will have an impact here, the world’s busiest border crossing.
Tens of thousands of people cross the border through San Ysidro every day. Tijuana resident Isabel Mendoza, 40, frequently goes shopping in San Diego on a tourist visa.
On Tuesday night, she was glued to her television watching the election results. “I hardly slept, I just kept praying, 'Dear God, please don’t let this happen,'" she said, weeping as she spoke.
Across Tijuana, people were watching the U.S. presidential election with as much fear as Mendoza. They expressed anxieties on Twitter, and held watch parties across the city.
One of their main worries was Trump's talk of repealing or weakening NAFTA or the North American Free Trade Agreement, a move that could hurt cross-border trade. The Mexican peso plummeted to new record lows as the election unfolded.
Mendoza said she fears the peso is going to drop further.
"Gas, eggs, everything that we consume is going to get more costly," Mendoza said.
She also thinks Trump will make it harder for people to cross the border when he’s president.
“The border wait is going to increase, with agents asking more questions," she said. "There will be more obstacles for us to enter the U.S."
Another regular border crosser, 31-year-old Tijuana resident Joaquin Siqueiros, said Trump's presidency did not bode well for Mexicans' purchasing power in the U.S.
"We purchase here, we contribute to the U.S. economy, and we're kind of worried we are not going to be able to purchase as much as we used to," Siqueiros said.
He said some Tijuana currency exchanges have placed a $500 limit on their dollar sales per person.
"There's some kind of panic right now because they don't know how much the currency is going to fall," he said.
Latinos and other minorities who live in San Diego are also worried. They held a rally Wednesday at San Diego City College, saying Trump has fueled hatred against people of color and women. More than 100 people showed up.
One 17-year-old Mexican student, Sandra Guzmán, broke into sobs as she said asked the crowd how the country could have elected a man accused of raping a 13-year-old girl.
Some Mexicans in the crowd said they fear their parents will be deported. Others, like Diana Gonzalez, 23, said they feared they themselves would be kicked out of the country.
Like thousands of other young people in San Diego, Gonzalez is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Obama enacted through executive action. Trump has vowed to revoke it.
DACA allowed Gonzalez to enroll in college this year. She’s studying English, with a concentration in history. Now, she could be facing deportation.
“It’s sad," she said. "The educational system taught us not to speak Spanish, and now they want to send me back to a country I don’t know anything about?”
Gonzalez was brought here when she was two years old. She said she doesn't even know the name of the Mexican president. But she does know Trump's. She said his victory shocked her, and that she thinks it's indicative of widespread hostility toward immigrants like her. She said she fears for her safety now.
“I feel that I can get hurt if I say the wrong thing in front of the wrong people," Gonzalez said.
Young black men at the rally said they felt the same way. Mohamed Musse, a 19-year-old student at San Diego City College, said he's spent his adolescence worried that police would shoot him, and thinks the risk will increase under Trump's administration.
“People are gonna think they can do anything because it’s Donald Trump, you know what I mean? And that’s scary. Especially being an African American male," Musse said.
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